A Review of Articles on Cyber activism and Protest Participation in New Media

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Political Science POLS 1400


Review: Articles on Cyberactivism and Protest Participation in New Media

Student: | M.H.S. |
Student ID: | ****550 |
Submitted: | November 12, 2012 |
TA: | |
Tutorial: | |
Word Count: | 1234 |

With the emergence of new forms of media and the continued technological advancement of these outlets, it follows naturally that there will be an affect on aggregate and holistic communication paradigms in society. One such social interaction that has been affected is the way in which activism and political protest have been transformed by the advent of the internet and cyberactivism. In researching this paper, three articles were reviewed regarding the variety of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and their effectiveness at reporting or promoting political activism. The peer reviewed articles have been chosen from an international selection authors and reflect not only Canadian examples but foreign ones as well. Through the course of this review I will argue that, although all the articles are reasoned and useful, it is my opinion that the article with the most importance is Eric Borra and Thomas Poell's article entitled Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr as platforms of alternative journalism: The social media account of the 2010 Toronto G20 protest. (2012) In support of this assertion, I will compare and critically examine the three articles based on criteria that develop importance. Firstly, I will use examples from the articles to assess their level of rhetorical clarity and integrity as they apply to the importance of each paper. Second, I will make an account of the research methods used in support of each authors arguments. This chronicle of method will be used to make an assertion about the quality of research provided in the articles. Lastly, I will present each author's own findings and make my own determination as to the significance and utility of each article. It is these preceding criteria that I base my judgement on and assert that Borra and Poell have provided the best article. For each article to have an impact it must be presented in such a way that the reader is provided with more kernels of understanding than conundrum. Oversight and topicality also inhibit an article from weighing in with significant power. Borra and Poell make good assertions of new media’s role in increasing the participation level in an actual protest. That clarity is partially eroded in their article by over examining the content of traditional news media rather than new media posts without drawing a clear connection to their thesis. They write “As a result, the mainstream press is, according to these authors, heavily focused on the spectacle, especially the violence, which accompanies many protests.” (Borra & Poell, 2012: 709) Much analysis is also provided regarding that same disagreement between the protest purpose and the content of new media postings. They continue... “The particular dynamic between the overwhelming police presence and violence, and the protestors’ efforts to document the police actions, produced accounts that were squarely focused on the violence and spectacle that accompanied and eventually overtook the protests.” (Borra & Poell, 2012: 709). Of course this idea is important for its own reasons, but its over analysis takes away from a fundamental of their thesis; social media's application in a protest is not one of crowd sourcing news as much as it is enhancing and increasing intensity and magnitude of participation (Borra & Poell, 2012). This idea is mirrored clearly and concisely in Jeroen Van Laer and Peter Van Aelst's article Internet and social movement action repertoires: Opportunities and limitations (2010) They show that with the reduced cost in terms of commitment or risk, a barrier is removed or lowered for participation in the protest. “we illustrate the various possibilities of the...
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